Killian Beef Story


My family has been in the cattle business for many years here in the state of Arizona. It goes back to my Great-Great Grandfather William Ellsworth who owned and operated the Hackberry/111 Ranch outside of Safford, AZ. He bought that ranch around the time Arizona received its statehood. The ranch has been owned by his children and grandchildren and we, the Killians, purchased it from our cousins in 2011 and have been operating it since. Before that we had a ranch over in New Mexico where I lived and raised cattle for the family company. When our relatives wanted to sell the Hackberry Ranch I was very excited and anxious to move down there and get out of the snow and cold weather of New Mexico. 

​William Ellsworth's daughter Jessie married my Great Grandfather, Ray Killian. Ray and Jesse had two children Max and Marion they lived in Safford but decided to move here to Mesa in the 1920's. He planted citrus trees and built a cattle feeding operation, that is still in operation today and is where Killian Beef is located. It isn't as big as it used to be, but it is perfect for what we do. One of the very unique design features our feed yard is it has pastures for the cattle to get out of the pens and to out be on grass pastures. This design enabled the cattle to bed down in grass and stay out of the mud while still being on feed.

Where do I fit into this, Well I was born here in Mesa and raised right here on the feed yard. During my childhood we didn’t have very many cattle here, we just had seed-stock, meaning very specialized purebred cattle that ranchers would come buy to use for breeding stock on their ranches. By the time I had graduated from high school our cattle operation was all but gone. I went on to college and thought I was going to be a Marine biologist. I had been in college for a year or two when My Dad and Grandpa told me they saw a ranch for sell in New Mexico and wanted me to go look at it with them. We all liked it and decided to buy it and some cattle. We were back in the cattle business. I worked up there when I was out of school and realized that marine biology wasn’t for me and this is what I was born to do. I worked on the ranch for a few years and after a couple of years my grandfather asked me to run it. I have been doing that since 2004. 

I met my beautiful wife Jenna when I moved down from New Mexico back to Arizona in 2011 when we sold our ranch and bought our cousins ranch in Safford. Her family had ranches in Mexico and knew all about cattle and she fit right in on the ranch and has been a tremendous help to me I could not have got that ranch going without her help. We have raised two ornery kids that are right in the middle of everything we do and they spent their first few years out on the ranch.

In 2015 my Dad, Mark Killian was appointed by Governor Ducey as the Director of the Department of Agriculture. With him being tied up with that there was a need for me here in Mesa to run the feed yard and help with the family business. We moved up to Mesa to help with the family business and run the cattle feeding operation. This is when Killian Beef was born. We had been selling steers to people for a few years, but many were asking when we would start selling beef by the piece. I investigated what we would need to do this and acquired the necessary permits and hauled a few steers down to the University of Arizona for processing and Killian Beef was up and running. We stored all of our beef at a local cold storage and I was delivering beef all over the valley almost every afternoon. As business grew we saw the need for a store front, so we built our own commercial freezer on the farm and set up a store front inside our barn and got more permits. It made it much easier to manage and people could come to the farm and get their beef right from the source and see with their own eyes what we do. Our business continues to grow and our next step is to build a butcher shop here on the farm, where we can deal fresh beef and do custom cuts. Now instead of selling most of our cattle commercially and keeping a few for Killian Beef we hope to keep most of them for beef to sell to you.

Killian Beef has become almost a full time deal for me, but I still manage our ranches that are around the state and it all keeps me hopping! But we are very grateful for all of your support and we hope we can continue to please and we hope we can get to the point where we have a butcher shop that is open six days a week and we can help the community source their beef locally and be satisfied with a safe and quality product.

Phil Killian

Owner, Manager, sales, delivery boy, and janitor for Killian Beef